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small image AnoHana: A Review

December 1, 2011 3:53 am by small image

Probably the most tear-jerking show I’ve watched since Clannad: After Story, Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai, or simply AnoHana, proved to be brilliance in 11 episodes.

After the death of their playmate Honma ‘Menma’ Meiko, five childhood friends began to drift apart and ultimately part ways. And now that they’ve grown up, Menma appeared to Yadomi ‘Jintan’ Jinta asking him to grant her wish which can only be fulfilled if their group — the Super Peace Busters — can get back together like they used to. Now a hikikomori being looked down by his neighborhood, Jintan braves the odds to fulfill his friend’s wish.

Before going down the emotional lane, let me give my two cents on the visuals and other ‘technical’ stuff first. One: I love the OP. Galileo Galilei did an awesome job with Aoi Shiori. And the ED is just an absolute perfect fit: Secret Base. You can’t get any more fitting than that. I was really surprised when the opening notes played after the first episode (‘Oh, hell. Wow. It’s Secret Base’). The background music was also well done — I especially like that one track that sounded vaguely like Annie Lourie. As for the drawing, I thought it looked really familiar — like a cross between Railgun and Kannagi. Anaru (the one in pigtails) looked especially like Kuruko to me. In short, I liked it.

Okay, now for the main part. I think the fact that this show is very much character driven is what makes it particularly emotional and undoubtedly, closer to home. Menma’s death caused the group to fall apart as they tried to find ways to cope with the loss. When Jintan began gathering them up though, old wounds re-opened and each of their anxieties are revealed which eventually led to them blaming themselves for Menma’s death.

It’s also easy to sympathize with the characters (or get annoyed with them *cough*Yukiatsu*cough*) as they go through the ordeal. For example, Jintan’s being thought of as crazy because he’s the only one who can see Menma. And the fact that he’s been a social recluse doesn’t help his case either. But despite the letdowns he’s getting, he continues to help Menma in whatever way he can.

As for the others, their stars shine one ray at a time but reaches their climax when they work together to grant what they thought was Menma’s wish. What happened, apparently, was a very complex love pentagon between Menma, Jinta, Yukiatsu, Anaru and Tsuruko which I will not elaborate lest I spoil everything. All hail Poppo for being the most optimistic, emotionally-stable and less complicated character in this series.

Tears fly by the end of the series when Jintan begins to question himself whether he would really like Menma to disappear. At this point, questions about selfishness, selflessness and happiness are brought to light as Menma herself suffers to see her friends fighting for her sake.

Some viewers may find the romance element kind of awkward but it is, I think, quite inevitable; once a group of close-knit friends are involved, one is bound to like the other. And this particular element is the fuel to the fire. It brought about different forms of anguish within each character which manifested in completely different ways.

The series may stumble here and there but it redeems itself at the end. Watching AnoHana is an emotional investment. It is a show where undoubtedly anyone can relate to as we’ve all lost something at some point in our lives. Friendship, death, selfishness, selflessness and ultimately, love, are the things that formed AnoHana‘s core and struck me where it should.